The weather was been great over the last week. On Thursday of last week, I was able to finally explore the valley beyond the end of my normal Muromi River ride. I had a good idea of where to go thanks to the help of Google Earth in navigating a path prior to the ride. The route took me off of the main road and through rice fields and along village streets. Of course, I did make a wrong turn at one point. Fortunately, I realized that the mistaken path was the road that led straight up the hillside and eventually just stops. It wasn’t too bad of a climb, but it used up a lot of strength that I could have used on the next hill. As I made my way back to the main road, the REAL climb began. The hillsides on both sides of the main road were covered in concrete and there was virtually no shoulder on the road as cars and trucks flew past. The climb to the top was slow and steep, but I made it. I descended back down the way I came. If was a nice and fast descent. The next step will be to explore the valley beyond the hill. It was a nice warm day to put in 40 km. I decided to grab some okinomiaki from local restaurant as a treat.
The forecast indicated that it was supposed to rain all day today…so, I wasn’t planning to ride. I was busy with errands in the morning when it was sunny and then it became overcast in the afternoon. I was finished with errands after returning from store around 3pm. Since it was still nice outside, I was resolved to get a ride in today after all. I started on the Muromi River ride with the intention of exploring a little farther than I did before and finding the best route (scenic, w/o traffic). However, as I was nearing the turnaround point for my normal 20K ride, I saw thunder clouds in the distance. The clouds were dark gray and menacing. They were piling up in the valley ahead and along the mountain top on the sides of the valley. I decided it would be best to leave further exploration for another day. Overall, it was a good ride at 25K/hr avg, but I admit that I didn’t push too hard during the last 10K. There was a pretty still headwind during the entire way back and I wanted to have some gas in the tank in case it actually did start to rain. I had no trouble making it back home, but a long ride would not have been a good idea. Shortly after I got home, the clouds opened up and release a crazy thunderstorm. Lightning flashed outside the apartment and was followed immediately by a giant…BOOM! I definitely did not want to be out in that weather. It was much better to be warm and dry inside while updating my blog and drinking a beer.
I had to blow off some stress on Friday after spending 4 hrs at Immigration getting my Visa renewed. It was 27 C and sunny outside and perfect for a bike ride. I started on the regular Muromi River ride, but kept on going past the regular turn around point. After 10 km, I headed off the main rode and followed the river back going through fields and a few of the village streets. It was a great ride and a lot of fun. The ride would have been a bit longer if I didn’t have an appoint at the beach for happy hour. There is definitely potential to add the 10 km segment to my regular ride.
Today my wife, Sarah, and I took advantage of the great Sunday weather and went for a bike ride along the Muromi River. Along the ride, we saw people fishing in the river and one family had even setup a tent along the river with their kids running, splashing in the river naked.
We were on the way back home when Sarah made an interesting observation about how she hasn’t seen any roadkill here in Japan. About 30 seconds later, I passed by a snake (~ 0.5m long) lying in the road. At first, I thought it was evidence of the “roadkill” that Sarah had mentioned. Much to Sarah’s surprise it wasn’t dead at all! After I rode past, the snake sprang to life and started slithering across the road. I heard Sarah scream and watched her weave across the road in order to avoid hitting it. Fortunately, no injuries were involved to man or beast. For the record, there ARE snakes in Kyushu (in case you were in any doubt).
The injury free trip wouldn’t last too much longer. About 15 minutes later, a car was coming toward us on a narrow section of road. We were riding single file near the shoulder with Sarah in the lead. The car didn’t seem to either slow down or provide any room for us to get by. The car forced Sarah on to the edge of the road. Part of the pavement was washed away and Sarah’s front wheel dropped off the road and caused her to go down onto the pavement. Fortunately, there wasn’t another car coming immediately behind the first one so that we could collect ourselves. The first thing I noticed was that Sarah was alright, although she had a little road rash. She was pretty shaken up by the experience though. After making sure that Sarah was ok, I turned my attention to the giant hissing sound that was coming from her front tire. Part of the tire had been torn and air was quickly coming out of the tire. I removed the tire, grabbed the spare tube and tire levers and found a nice spot to sit along the river. I removed the old tube and inspected the damage to the tire. During the crash, a V-shaped gouge had been cut in the middle of the tire. The back side of the tire appeared intact and it looked like it would get her home with a new tube. Fortunately, the damaged tire and new tube held up for the trip back to our apt. The next step is to check Amazon.jp for a new tube. It wasn’t the best ride, but nobody was seriously hurt and no major damage was done.
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to join a biking & hiking tour in the northeast corner of Kyushu. It all started on Friday night with a great dinner. In the morning, we cycled 50 km and hiked for 2-3 hours in the middle of the day. On Sat evening, we stopped at a great onsen followed by dinner at a nice little restaurant. We spent the night at a farmhouse on the end of the town and then made our way back to the starting location by following a different route back.